Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Mar 06, 2014

Every Thursday, the Going Out Guide staff discusses concerts, happy hours, cheap date ideas, weekend getaways, new exhibits and other ways to have fun in the Washington D.C. area.

Hi everyone. Big news in our world is the arrival of this year's 40 Essential Eats list. How many of these dishes have you tried? Trust me: You should eat lunch before clicking through the gallery.

In other news, temperatures are going to be close to 60 this weekend. What are you looking forward to doing sans snow? 

What time do I need to get to Roses Luxury to get a table on a Friday night at a reasonable dinner hour?

The hot Barracks Row restaurant opens at 5:30. On a Friday, the line outside begins forming before 5. Get there as early as possible, put your name down, then go have a happy hour drink at Ambar or Matchbox while you wait for your reservation time.

Hey Gurus--How is it already Thursday again? I'm looking for some sort of second date activity for next Monday night, not just dinner/drinks. Was considering bowling/bocce at Pinstripes and the March Madness of Comedy event, but those aren't so geographically/metro friendly for us. Thanks for any suggestions!

Okay, you can't do Silver Spring or Georgetown. What areas are better for you? The more you tell us, the more we can help.

Hey GOG, just wanted to send in a review of Pinstripes, the new bowling/bocce bistro in Georgetown. I read your article on it a few weeks ago and thought it would be fun to try out - unfortunately, Pinstripes still has a lot of work to do to make customers happy.

Apparently you have to make reservations (for bowling??? crazy) to be guaranteed a lane, although they don't advertise that fact ANYWHERE and you can't make same-day reservations. You can get on the wait list and possibly get a lane 40 min to an hour after you initially arrive HOWEVER they often have events and don't tell you that when you're on the wait list (my group waited 1.5 hours for a lane only to find at that all the lanes were reserved for a private party and there was no chance we were getting off the wait list).

I can tell this place could be a lot of fun, I did get to bowl one game with boyfriend while we were waiting for the rest of our group (btw you can't add games while you're playing, you have to pay upfront for all games you want to play) and they have a great atmosphere - comfy couches, good beer list. BUT they need to work on their customer service and post on their website that you essentially need a reservation.

Just an FYI for anyone out there who wants to try it, I might go back but it's not likely - too much aggravation for what was supposed to be a fun Saturday. Anyway, thanks for writing about new places in DC for fun times, GOG, even if this one wasn't the best, I've tried other places you've written about and loved them!

Lot of detail and good information there. Several of us have been to Pinstripes in the past, but none of us have been on a weekend. Lavanya and I actually didn't go on a Saturday because we thought it would be too crazy; I went on a Wednesday and had no problem getting a bowling lane, a bocce court and enjoying the discoutned games and late-night happy hour with a group of friends.

Hi Gurus, I'm looking for some good ideas for a corporate party. Around 60-70 people, DC NW preferred, a weeknight are the only hard requirements. Ideas I'm throwing around are Penn Social, H Street Country Club, game at Verizon Center, & bowling at Lucky Strike. What else haven't I thought of?

Bowling at Pinstripes? Lots of lanes, lots of space, and they do plenty of corporate events if their calendar is anything to go by. 

I'm planning on checking out Gypsy Sallys this weekend. How bad is the parking situation down there?

Pretty bad. (It's Georgetown.) You can park at the 24-hour garage next to the AMC Theater at Wisconsin and K, and then walk west for 5-6 blocks to the venue.

My wife and I are eating dinner in Virginia Square next Saturday to celebrate our Anniversary. We have a baby-sitter lined up for the night. Any recommendations on what we can do after dinner? Live music is always a good option. Thanks.

The best live music in the Clarendon-to-Ballston corridor next Saturday is History Repeated, a post-punk group consisting of veteran '80s/'90s D.C. musicians, fronted by John Stabb of Government Issue. (The problem is that it's the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day, which means bars are going to be slammed with bar-crawling revelers getting their Irish on two days early.)

If that's not your cup of tea, I can't think of a more celebratory place for a drink than Bar TNT, Todd Thrasher's fantastic cocktail bar on Columbia Pike. It's a short drive from Va Square -- maybe 6-8 minutes -- and the drinks are fantastic. 

Finally an opportunity for Friday HH with a good friend. We're both wine drinkers in our 30's and haven't been HH regulars for a while. We're open to any part of the city and are looking for a fun stylish crowd. Can you help us out?

Two new and different options for wine drinkers after work: Flight, in Penn Quarter, has a stylish vibe, dozens of wines by the glass (full and mini pours) and, importantly, lots of bottles in the $30-$45 range so you can split something you like without draining your wallet. (You can see the menu here.)

Eno, located next to the Four Seasons in Georgetown, is much more focused on flights of three small pours. (You'd think Flight would be, due to the name.) Food is mostly cheese and charcuterie. 

I'm a 30 something looking to watch the UVA Syracuse basketball game at 4pm on Saturday (and root for UVA, of course), but looking for a slightly older crowd than you might find at the official UVA bar in couthouse (Arlington Rooftop bar & grill). Any suggestions?

This is when I would turn to the Crystal City Sports Pub. Not as hip as some of the official bars, which leads to a slightly older crowd, but there are a ton of TVs, and I saw a decent number of both Virginia and Virginia Tech fans on recent visits.

Will Oyamel get crazy as soon as their happy hour starts tomorrow? How about the new place, Menu? Looking to start cocktails someplace that isn't too loud.

The problem with Oyamel's happy hour is that there's not a ton of bar space, and they don't offer the deals in the restaurant seating. I would think the place would be more crowded next week, once the annual Mezcal and Tequila Festival kicks off, thanks to the nightly mezcal and tequila tastings. 

For cocktails in that neighborhood in a relaxed setting, Proof's bar is still my go-to. Hogo isn't bad either -- the tiki bar fills up as the night goes on, rather than kicking off with crowds at 5 p.m.

Friends have suggested going this weekend. Worth the trip?

Yes, but don't go at prime time. I visited the new Alehouse last week at happy hour, and crowds were two or three people deep at the bar, and it was hard to order. Great beer selection, though, including three casks, and guest taps from Richmond's Hardywood and Legends.

I still haven't eaten there, so can't say much about it, but hope the Cuban sandwich is as good as it is at the Heavy Seas Alehouse in Baltimore.

The OP is a week behind. That game was last week (or is it a leftover question?).

Sorry, I didn't check the date. Thing about this chat is that you can send in a question any time after the chat finishes on Thursday and it will automatically show up in the following week's queue of questions.

But my view about CCSP still holds.

The bar at NoPA is generally not too crowded; I've usually had to fight for a seat at Proof.

Proof does get more crowded, especially after 6 or so, but I'll take the cocktails there over NoPA any day. Just sayin.

Oh, another place where I almost NEVER have to fight for a seat at happy hour: Fiola. Great drinks for $5-$6, fantastic food, but there are always empty seats at the bar. Maybe people think it's too classy for happy hour?

When do paddleboats on the Tidan Basin start renting again? Have an itch to get out there once it warms up a bit!

I know, right? One of the great signs of spring in D.C. The paddleboats start renting on Saturday the 15th, the weekend before the Cherry Blossom Festival begins. (This is, of course, assuming it doesn't snow again.)

What do you think about this new trend for Cash-Only Bars in DC? I'm specifically thinking Red Derby and the new Ivy & Coney. I know most Gay Bars are cash only but is this a good thing?

It's really not a new trend. Black Cat has been around for 20+ years and they've always been cash-only. The Derby's getting close to a decade old and they've never taken plastic. More recent additions would include Showtime, Dr. Clock's Nowhere Bar and Ivy and Coney.

I've got no problem with it. When Galaxy Hut wanted to go cash only a few years ago, the owner told me he was paying something like $8,000 a year just in credit card fees. When you're a small, independent business, like these bars are, you need to save money wherever you can. The downside is that some customers don't like it -- there was so much backlash against Galaxy Hut's decision that the bar reversed course and still takes cards to this day.

As for gay bars not taking cards, I've used my credit card at Cobalt, Nellie's, JR's, Number Nine, Green Lantern, Phase 1 ... never had a problem.

Whenever I think about moving to another city, it's because of some nonsense like needing reservations for bowling. Or once, I went to Bonchon and they were booked up with reservations... for chicken wings, really? Calm down with the reservations, crazies, its no fun for us normal people.

Actually, we get a lot more emails from people who are ticked off about restaurants that don't take reservations than from people complaining that popular restaurants do take reservations.

Bottom line: You can't please everyone.

So we have an ambitious plan to bike up a very tall mountain at the end of next summer. Towards that end, I was working on a training plan that involved biking up a local hill, and then drinking at a nearby vineyard. Say, for example, Mount Weather, out past Leesburg, and then drinking at Blue Mont vineyard around the corner. Does anyone know of some other challenging mountain roads, near a vineyard? Say in an hours drive? Thanks

Interesting idea. I ran this by our in-house winery expert, and she suggestion tackling the "sizeable" hills around Sugarloaf Mountain before heading to Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards (thankfully at the bottom of the mountain) to try their wines, including the award-winning Comus Bordeaux-style blend.

It's all part of the competitive nature of the people that live here, compared to other cities. Very unpleasant to have to fight weeks out for a restaurant reservation. You can't be spontaneous here.

I haven't made a dinner reservation (outside of a birthday) in 2 or 3 years, FWIW. I like that many of the great restaurants in D.C. -- Rose's Luxury, Little Serrow, Doi Moi, Toki Underground, Daikaya, even Right Proper -- don't take them.

Hello, my birthday is on a Saturday this year (March 22) and that is so much pressure. I'm thinking of a fun club party for a group of 8 - 10 as something different. What can you suggest with the following caveats: I'm in my late 30's, preference of music is old school hip hop / house music, not full of annoying hipsters and good parking as bf is grumpy about long searches. Thanks

I recently wrote about the lounge at RedRocks on H Street NE, which I think should fit the bill. It's spacious, nice rooftop deck, couches for relaxing, reasonably priced drinks, older-than-many spots on H, and great DJs. The man on the turntables on the 22nd is Sharkey, who's responsible for bringing Talib Tweli, Tony Touch and others to the spot. His sets are a lot of old-school and underground hip-hop (he's been a tour and production DJ for the likes of Brand Nubian, for example). The only caveat is parking, but H isn't too bad if you don't show up at 11 p.m. when everyone else is circling the block.

Got a good recommendation for a bar to sit for an hour or so and have a quiet drink with my parents on Capitol Hill?

The Dubliner for an Irish pub vibe, George at Bistro Bis or the bar at Beuchert's Saloon for cocktails, the Tune Inn for a great dive atmosphere. 

I had avoided providing more info so as not to get outed for seeking help here. =) But we're coming from different parts of VA (out on the yellow and orange lines respectively) and live in SW DC. Also tend to both work relatively late.

Gotcha. Since your paths cross in Rosslyn, I'd suggest stopping by Continental, which is an old favorite of mine. They have skee-ball, shuffleboard, darts, even a Nintendo Wii for you to play while you sip your drinks. And you won't have to make a reservation, unlike Pinstripes.

Oh please - outside making them for parties over 6, I haven't made one in years and never had a problem. If there is, we just go straight to the bar and have a great time. It's just a pathetic complaint.

At Bon Chon, because of the frying method, they have a limited number of wings and legs they can cook each night. On the weekend the demand exceeds the supply. Don't think of it as a dinner reservation, think of it as calling ahead to order food. In my experiences they ask me how much chicken and what kind before they ask how many people. BTW the drumsticks are superior to the wings.

Good afternoon GoGs! Thank you for taking my question. My fiance and I are having engagment photos taken in a couple of weeks in Old Town Alexandria with our 4-legged family member too. We're coming up to Old Town for the photo session but would like to make a day-trip out of this event (provided the weather holds out for us!). Can you recommend any dog-friendly activities or restaurants in Old Town? I know the area is dog-friendly but I don't know any specific places to go. Our photo session is in the afternoon so we're looking for something to do in the morning/early afternoon and a place for lunch and/or dinner.

Some weekends, it feels like EVERYONE in Alexandria has a dog in tow. You can take them on historic tours (there's a 90-minute walking tour from the visitors center on King Street that's dog friendly). You can bring them to the Civil War-era Fort Ward historic site and let your pooch play among the cannons. (Alexandria has a great list of fenced and unfenced dog parks that I recommend reading.) 

Most resturants will accomodate dogs on patios; Jackson 20 at the Hotel Monaco is my favorite; it's also the site of the warm-weather Doggie Yappy Hour, which lures dozens of four-legged guests every week. (That doesn't start until April, but they welcome dogs year-round.)

Two Saturdays in a row, we have gone to Shirlington and the wait for tables at 6:30 was 45 minutes in every place we went in except Aroma. Reservations serve a purpose.

Okay, I apologize in advance if I've been slow today -- deadlines meant I'm the only one answer questions, so thanks for your patience. We still have a number of questions in the queue, so I'm going to see if I can get some of the other GOG staffers to help me answer extras on the blog.

Post Points code this week is GG7944.

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The Going Out Guide
The Going Out Guide staff are the experts behind The Washington Post's Going Out Guide. They write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene.
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